Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A "Documentary" on Jesus' Bones

By now you probably heard or read the news about a documentary prepared by a Canadian film maker and the famous director of the Titanic film. The documentary treats an issue which most Christians will find interesting, but also a waste of time. According to the news release information, the film maker asserts that the bones of Jesus Christ, "son of Joseph," of his "wife," and other members of his family were discovered in Jerusalem. Christians believe that Jesus Christ, Son of God the Father, raised in Nazareth in Galilee, and who was crucified by Pontius Pilate, rose from his tomb on the first Easter morning. Therefore, there are no bones about it. Jesus Christ is still very much alive. The names Jesus, Joseph and Mary was very common in the early first century C.E. (or A.D.)
I read two commentaries. One appeared this morning on CNA, a Catholic web news service. In the news article, the author states that he himself is the one who discovered the "bones" in question. He does not believe they belong to Jesus the Resurrected One. Another longer article was forwarded by our publishing house's acquisitions office. CNA's email address is: cna_news@acinews.net.
The longer article is written by Ben Witherington. The file name is: Ben_Witherington_on_the_Jesus_Tomb.doc. I am not sure if you can link to it from here, but give it a try. He also refers to a Toronto Star article which discusses the same topic: http://www.thestar.com/News/article/185708.
If you have ever read the works of Eusebius, Father of Church History, you will find a description of the tomb of "James 'brother' of Jesus." Of course, the term 'brother' here also can mean cousin. Eusebius' writings contradict the Talpiot tomb findings which will be discussed in the documentary.
Since I am a partial movie buff I was taken by Witherington's words: "So my response to this is clear--James Cameron, the producer of the movie Titanic, has now jumped on board another sinking ship full of holes, presumably in order to make a lot of money before the theory sinks into an early watery grave. Man the lifeboats and get out now."
May the Risen Jesus enlighten us and strengthen our faith.

February's Almost Over!

Last Saturday was very busy. It started out as a very sunny day which allowed many folks to come to our Pauline Centre (Canadian spelling) on Dufferin Street. Since we were minus two of our "regular" Sisters (one is helping out in Los Angeles for a couple of weeks, the other was due to arrive that evening from a Rome-Boston trip), we were very busy. Then two Pauline lay Cooperators came to accompany Sister Hosea Marie who went to set up a book display in St. Mary's Parish in Barrie, Ontario. Milly (Milagros) and I were alone to help the people who came to us on Saturday. Milly and I did not have time to hold a conversation with one another as we kept busy answering the phone and the inquiries of the customers.
Many people also paid a visit to our chapel to spend a few quiet moments with the Lord.
On Sunday Sister Paul who had arrived the evening before and I attended the 11:00 AM Italian Mass at St. Charles Church just two doors away from us. Father Donato Sartini, OFM, celebrated Mass. Father Donato always gives a great homily. Since Sr. Marie Paul had recently come back from a communications' course held in Rome, she was happy to keep up the Italian. It was good to have a real day of rest after our busy Saturday. Fridays can also be demanding, since our centre is open from 9:30 AM until 7:30 PM. As in so many big cities, Friday evening traffic creates miles of automotive "crawl space" on the 401 [that's the major east/west artery here], and all the other big streets in-between. Toronto rivals New York and even Boston for traffic jams! I always admire people who drive to Pauline Books & Media on Friday evenings, since they have a real sense of perseverance! May the Lord reward their patience.
How is your Lent doing? I hope it is going well for you.
God bless you! Sister Mary Peter

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Time for Ashes and Renewal

Happy Lent!
Yesterday seemed a bit like Spring, since for the first time in what seemed ages, the temperature was above freezing. And, I thought I heard little birds chirping! No matter the temperature outside, Lent is often called a "Spring time for the Soul."
Sister Hosea and I went to 7:00 AM Mass at the chapel of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master. After the readings, Father Mark blessed ashes left from last year's palms. Then he marked each of our foreheads with the ashes. This ritual is repeated around the world today to remind us of the need to "repent and believe" the Good News.
The Vatican Council II document on the Liturgy says, "The season of Lent has a twofold character: primarily by recalling or preparing for baptism and by penance, it disposes the faithful, who more diligently hear the Word of God and devote themselves to prayer, to celebrate the paschal mystery. This twofold character is to be brought into greater prominence...in the liturgy and by liturgical catechesis."
St. Paul said that "Christ did not seek to please himself" (Rm. 15:3). So we have our best model for Lent in Jesus himself.
Father Guido Gandolfo, SSP, commented on our Founder's thoughts on Lent and penance or what the Founder more often called mortification: "To understand precisely the thought of the Founder (Blessed James Alberione) who said 'take on the way of Jesus Christ by means of mortification', we need to speak of adhering so much to Jesus-Way, by following him, even by 'holding on' to him, so that he re-lives his virtues in us today. It is a question then of making space for the One whom we have chosen to love!"
That's a very positive spin on repentance.
Just as in the Spring we do some digging and moving around in our gardens, so the same with our spiritual selves: we dig out the weeds, soften the soil and plant seeds of virtue. We make space for God in our thoughts and in our way of acting, and we spend more time with him in prayer. Best wishes for a great Lent!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Catching Up

Well, a lot has happened in the past few weeks, and I forgot to enter a blog. Forgive the lapse.
Tonight each time I tried to spell check y blog I somehow erased it!
About two weeks ago I accompanied Sister Hosea to St. Isaac Jogues Church in Pickering, just east of Toronto. The pastor and his assistant were very gracious and allowed us to speak after Communion at each Mass. Folks were very responsive once again. That was the beginning of the truly cold weather. Yet people came and waited patiently in line to be served. One of the books which I spoke about was "Why Go to Confession?" It's a little book by Archbishop Bruno Forte. I had the privilege of getting to know Bruno Forte when he spent a month at our Staten Island house several years ago. Then one Saturday morning in Charleston, South Carolina there was a priest sitting in the sanctuary of St. Mary's Church waiting to concelebrate the Mass. The Sister with me, Sr. Mary Agnes, had been in Staten Island that summer when Father Bruno Forte came to stay with us. We both looked at each other and said, "That's Father Forte!" After Mass he walked over to our book center, and one of his books was on display in our book center window. I am delighted that this new book, so small yet so precious is available to a wider audience. Forte has been and still is an outstanding theologian. Right now he is an Archbishop in Italy. For years he taught theology in Naples, Italy. He would spend his summers in a different country not only to practice his language skills, but to get to understand new cultures and the needs of people. Forte's pocket sized book answers not only why go to confession, but its emphasis is not so much on sin, but on the intensity of God's love waiting to meet us in the Sacrament.